LSM Most Valued Peer Award


"Genius without influence is like an unmined diamond."

Presented annually to a graduating senior in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management based on peer nomination, the Most Valued Peer (MVP) Award honors a student who with humility and grace has exemplified the rare ability to stimulate each of their teammates to contribute equally and to their full potential, to facilitate a high-performing team dynamic and unexpectedly outstanding results.

2024 Recipient:

Lina Zein

When we see Lina on a day-to-day basis, she is softly spoken and extraordinarily unassuming. When she does speak up, though, more often than not to advocate not for herself but for her fellow students or in the interests of advancing social justice, she does so with great clarity and to good effect. Her record of service includes a variety of pro bono consulting roles (with both Penn Undergrad Biotech Society and Wharton Women), serving as a key player in team-teaching biology and neuroscience labs to local, underserved high school students through Academically Based Community Service courses, and working with a team to help patients navigate their online medical portal via a bilingual workshop in collaboration with Maria de Los Santos Health Center. Lina is not one to take all the credit – she takes pains to give credit to the teams she works with, whether it’s in these ventures or her LSM Capstone team, and it is this in large part that makes her such an exemplary teammate and leader.

Not only has Lina positively impacted the Capstone course and the LSM community as a whole, but throughout her time at Penn, she has worked tirelessly to make the larger community better and more inclusive through WEDIG (the Wharton Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Group), with which she has been active since her first year, shortly after the group’s founding. And latterly, again with an eye to fostering important discussions in the university community, she has been active with the Penn Bioethics Society.

Academically, Lina has also excelled, in finding a way to align her science and business degrees by majoring in Neuroscience in the College while doing a concentration in Behavioral Economics in Wharton. Not only was she excited to do behavioral research for her independent study in Neuroscience, but she also took advantage of the opportunity, last summer, to do research at the innovative infant formula company ByHeart; there she impressed those with whom she worked, as she has impressed all of us, with her initiative, thoughtfulness, and enthusiasm. Her other professional internship experiences have been with McKinsey, consulting on life sciences and healthcare projects, and that is what she will return to after graduation. What will follow after that Lina doesn’t yet know – perhaps graduate school? – but one thing we know is that she has what it takes to change things for the better in whatever role she eventually chooses.

2023 Recipient:

Amy Chen

Amy’s seriousness of purpose is reflected in her dazzlingly impressive record of service and leadership and her extraordinarily high achievements academically, and yet she wears her talents and intelligence so lightly and humbly that what most stands out about her are her seemingly unfailing cheerfulness and her friendly, positive energy. Amy joined the program after her first year as an internal transfer, and she not only became a valued part of the community, she helped change it for the better. She served as one of the founding Student Coordinators of the LSM track in the Educational Pipeline Program, helping the student team create a curriculum for local, underserved high school students interested in science and to teach it, including field trips, and additional voluntary guidance in college applications. She also volunteered locally with the Shelter Outreach Program, working directly with shelter residents in providing blood pressure screenings, volunteering at a pilot free health clinic in West Philadelphia, and designing informational pamphlets on COVID-19, nutrition, and employment for shelters across West and North Philadelphia with a total of over 500 residents.

With a view to having also a still broader impact on the health of patients in most need, Amy used her business skills in the service of the Penn Medicine – Wharton Fund for Health in sourcing and doing due diligence on early-stage companies who promise to address the social determinants of health affecting economically disadvantaged Philadelphia residents. She also deployed her knowledge of science and healthcare at Penn as Healthcare Investment Team Portfolio Manager with the Wharton Asia Exchange, and through three summer internships: one as both an R&D intern and Business Analyst at Philadelphia med tech business Avisi Technologies, a second at Regeneron as an Oncology Customer Insights intern, and her third most recently as a Healthcare Investment Banking Summer Analyst at Centerview Partners, where she will return to work following graduation. In addition to all this, Amy also pursued her interest in scientific research through her work at the Ophthalmic Pathology Laboratory of Dr. Vivian Lee at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, where she investigated cell signaling pathways associated with corneal wound healing. Amy characteristically shared her enjoyment of intellectual inquiry, and the ethics of medicine, with others through her role as Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Penn Bioethics Journal. At some point, after gaining business experience, Amy intends to go on to medical school, where she would doubtless be as meaningful a contributor to the community in and beyond the school as she has been here.

2022 Recipient:

Niteesh Vemuri

Niteesh’s passion for helping his fellow students has made him a leader and a lynchpin of the LSM community and it is clear why he was selected as MVP by acclaim from his classmates. He made an effort to get to know everyone in the program and worked to provide a welcoming environment for all, and provided advice and assistance for many – students, but also faculty and staff! In serving as the Chair of the LSM Student Advisory Board, he helped plan a variety of student events that helped to create a positive community in the program. He also contributed to the implementing of the LSM Pipeline collaboration, through which LSM students volunteer, through the Educational Pipeline Program run through the Perelman School and the Netter Center, to teach local West Philadelphia high school students about life sciences and management. Professionally, Niteesh worked at RA Capital Management, a life-sciences-focused crossover fund, in their TechAtlas Research Division. His work included serving on the team launching COVID Apollo, an initiative to scale testing rapidly and cheaply at the height of the pandemic. They also created a COVID diagnostics map and identified potentially viable technologies. Niteesh also interned at Centerview in San Francisco, where he is returning after graduation to work full-time as a health-care Investment Banker.

2021 Recipient:

Catherine Ruan 

Catherine’s talent and passion for helping others and bringing out the best in them has been appreciated enormously both within and beyond the LSM program. She was a wonderful teammate in Capstone, and has always been willing to help her classmates and younger students as well as students thinking of applying to the program. Though disarmingly humble, Catherine has an inspiring upbeat disposition which has made her a highly effective community builder in essentially every organization she has been a part of. When she was its President, the Wharton Asia Exchange organization won the award for Best Large Wharton Club, thanks in large part to her dedication to the professional development of its members hand in hand with her attention to diversity and inclusion and peer support. Her selfless leadership style resulted in a positive, inspiring organizational culture in which all members had freedom to contribute ideas and pursue their interests. And as VP of Outreach for the College Dean’s Advisory Board, Catherine effectively advocated for students and solicited their active participation.  Moreover, Catherine has meaningfully contributed to a variety of organizations beyond Penn through Penn Social Entrepreneurship Movement Consulting and her membership of Penn Undergraduate Biotech Society. Even during her business internship with the investment bank PJT Partners, which was necessarily an online experience, Catherine was the one encouraging her fellow interns to join the Zoom “water cooler” and get to know and support each other. As if this is not enough, during her summer science internship and throughout the school year Catherine contributed to the research of Dr. Katherine Nathanson’s laboratory at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, where she deployed both cell culture techniques and high-end statistical approaches for the genomic characterization of urogenital cancers.  And, as a further extension of her summer internships, she also worked during one school year as a Venture Capital Fellow with a technology focus with New Enterprise Associates. Following graduation, she has returned to PJT Partners as an Investment Banking Analyst.

2020 Recipient:

Anova Sahoo

Anova spent an extraordinary amount of her time at Penn mentoring other students in LSM and beyond. She’s an exceptionally thoughtful and giving person. Not only did she serve as a Peer Advisor in LSM helping new students, but she was a Wharton Peer Advising Fellow, a Biology Major Advisor, and a Research Innovation and Entrepreneurship mentor. She also spearheaded the Biotechnology mentoring program with the Penn Undergraduate Biotech Society and served as a mentor to younger students working with social impact organizations through 180 Degrees Consulting. Beyond these formal commitments, it was common in her four years here to hear Anova in the LSM lounge providing support and good counsel to her fellow students.

In addition to helping countless other students achieve their potential, exemplifying the humility and generosity that the MVP Award is intended to celebrate and promote, Anova proved to be an adventurous, engaged, and engaging student, who somehow managed to complete not only her degrees for LSM (a Wharton BSE with concentrations in both Finance and Statistics, and a College of Arts & Sciences BA in Mathematical Biology), but also a Master’s degree in Biotechnology with a concentration in Biopharmaceutical Engineering. This is knowledge that she intends to put to good use in an operational role or as an investor in the biopharma industry starting with her current position as an Associate Consultant with Bain & Co.

Anova has already made her mark in the industry, though she will doubtless do still more good but on a larger scale in the years to come. During her internship with Gilead, she helped develop FDA-approved mathematical models for physician education in hepatitis C elimination efforts, and in the course of her consulting work at Penn, she contributed to the commercialization of a women’s health point-of-care diagnostic with a biotech startup, and helped develop a strategy for a large pharma company to distribute free medicines to peri-urban communities of sub-Saharan Africa and India. As a researcher, she’s published the work she did at the London School of Economics (through what was then the Wharton GRIP program) concerned with recommendations for improving cardiac health, and on clinical trial design for novel therapeutics. Here at Penn, she studied population genetics at the Perelman School. With her boundless curiosity and ability, as well as her selflessness in bringing out the best in others, Anova epitomizes the ideals of the LSM program.

2019 Recipient:

Krishna Patel

Krishna’s kindness and unfailing willingness to help others have been much appreciated by his peers and all who have had the pleasure of working with him. His current goal, characteristically, is to learn how to help more people even more effectively. He won a Thouron Award that will allow him to pursue an MSc degree in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at the University of Oxford this year in the UK, after which he will go to medical school at Mt. Sinai. His concentration at Oxford will be in Health Inequalities, reflecting a passion not only for medicine but also for community health and access to medicine that he has been acting on throughout his time at Penn. For two years, Krishna has been the sole undergraduate representative with the Interprofessional Alliance for Community Engagement, along with faculty, community leaders, and Penn Medicine’s Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, where he has been helping to develop a holistic approach to community health that involves medical education. For his LSM business internship, Krishna enhanced his knowledge of hospital administration and community engagement through his work as a Finance Summer Associate with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, an $18B integrated delivery system. And he has also served as a Growth Consultant for local business and early-stage health care companies with the Wharton Small Business Development Center. This is not to say that Krishna doesn’t also act on his passion for science and his belief in the value of research: he interned at the Weill Cornell Brain Tumor Center for his scientific research internship, and he was engaged in scientific research throughout his time at Penn with Professor Nicholas Betley of the Biology Department, ultimately conducting thesis research using mouse models to investigate the mechanisms by which the brain processes external stimuli to facilitate survival processes including hunger, pain, thirst, and itch.